Santiago Abascal — the leader of Spain’s right-wing populist Vox party — has slammed the use of the Black Lives Matter kneeling gesture at the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, and lauded the Spanish national football team’s decision not to participate.
Before Spain’s opening match against Sweden, Abascal took to social media, writing: “Disguised as a gesture against racism, some are determined to bring nations to their knees. We are seeing it in sport.”
“Spain must not kneel before those who insult our history and the legacy of a nation that never looked at the color of its skin,” the populist leader added with an image which states: “Spain Does Not Kneel.”
Disfrazado de gesto contra el racismo , algunos se empeñan en arrodillar a las naciones, lo estamos viendo en el deporte.
— Santiago Abascal ?? (@Santi_ABASCAL) June 14, 2021
Abascal then praised the Spanish football team’s final decision not to kneel before its debut match against Sweeden, who also refused to take a knee. Shortly after the referee blew the match’s opening whistle, Vox applauded the players on the party’s official Twitter account.
“While some kneel, the patriots remain standing. Great are the national team players!” VOX wrote on its official Twitter account, along with a video that recounts which teams have taken the knee and which ones haven’t.
Mientras unos se arrodillan, los patriotas permanecen en pie ???
— VOX ?? (@vox_es) June 14, 2021
Vox and Abascal weren’t the only Spaniards concerned with their national team taking the knee, which at this point has come to be inextricably linked to the far-left, neo-Marxist Black Lives Matter movement. Last week, scores of Spanish football fans threatened to boycott the Euro 2020 tournament if their players decided to kneel before kick-off. They even went so far as to make the hashtag “#SiSeArrodillanApagaLaTele or “if they take a knee, turn off the TV” trend on Twitter before Monday’s match.
Other prominent national conservative figures have harshly criticized football teams who’ve adopted the radical Black Lives Matter kneeling gesture.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, following last Thursday’s international friendly match between Ireland and Hungary, voiced his support for Hungarian football fans who booed the Irish team for kneeling before kick-off, referring to the gesture as a “provocation”.
“We can only see this gesture system from our cultural vantage point as unintelligible, as a provocation,” Orbán said.
“The fans reacted the way those who are provoked usually react to provocation. They do not always choose the most elegant form (of reaction) but we have to understand their reasons… I agree with the fans.”
The Hungarian prime minister added that he has no sympathy for “this kneeling business. I don’t think this has any place on the pitch. Sport is about other things.”
So far, five teams have opted to kneel before their Euro 2020 matches: Ireland, Wales, Switzerland, Belgium, and England. More teams, however, have rejected the far-left gesture, including Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Scotland, Russia, Croatia, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Turkey.
Instead of kneeling, many footballers — including several on the Hungarian, Polish, Czech, and Croatian teams — have started pointing to the “Respect” inscription on their jersey’s left sleeve, which has acted as the logo for UEFA’s campaign against racism since 2008.